|Lady Justice holds scales of justice against clear, blue sky.|
"According to the US Constitution, every citizen must be afforded due process of law. This means no one can be denied legal rights and all laws must have standard protections. This is more than being able to understand and confront an accuser if accused of a crime. Due process upholds educational service rights, or the quality or availability of public benefit entitlements.
"People with disabilities are disproportionately entangled with the criminal justice system. The number of youth with disabilities in what has come to be called 'the school to prison pipeline' has grown with the advent of zero-tolerance policies. Access to accommodations is an imperative component of making sure justice is accessible to everyone. (Imagine someone who uses sign language being handcuffed during court.) Even when convicted, people with disabilities may experience abuse, discrimination, treatment refusal or other neglect in correctional or psychiatric facilities."
In poking around on the internet looking for information on my home state's public policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults, I came across a report published in 2008 by Disability Rights Washington, Washington State's designated protection and advocacy office titled, "Improving Washington's Response to Abuse and Neglect. Analysis and Recommendations." Here is the Executive Summary:
C. Individual Accountability
No state agency is holding non-licensed individuals civilly accountable for abusing or neglecting vulnerable adults receiving services from DSHS licensed providers.
As the parent of a young man who is a 25-year-old vulnerable adult, I have a question for DRW, "What state agency holds licensed mental health professionals who violate a vulnerable adult's civil rights accountable? None. Crimes are not investigated or prosecuted when victims are vulnerable adults and the perpetrators are mental health or social service professionals who are acting as agents of the state Under Color of Law. In 2010, my son was Court Ordered to Involuntary Treatment in Yakima County Superior Court when Designated Mental Health Professional, Nancy Sherman, and psychiatrist, Jeffrey Jennings, used perjured testimony and a forged affidavit as "evidence" to support their petitions to detain and treat my son.
Disability Rights Washington offered no assistance, advocacy, legal representation or protection to my son...
Read the whole report DRW 2008